Harvick leads 100 of 130 laps
He's done something about it.
Now the man to beat when he shows up for a NASCAR truck race, Harvick pulled away from Busch for a dominating victory Saturday in the E-Z-GO 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Harvick's crew made only one slight adjustment on his Chevrolet truck, taking out three-10ths of a pound of air in the right rear tire on the first pit stop. It was clear right from the start he had a machine to beat as long as he stayed out of trouble.
"We just had a really fast truck," Harvick said.
He's now won three straight starts in the Camping World Truck Series, and five of his last nine. During that stretch of dominance dating back to 2008, he's finished no lower than fifth.
"A lot of the reason we race trucks is just to make sure Kyle doesn't win all the races," Harvick said. "Sometimes, you've got to protect your turf. It's important to us and Chevrolet to score as many bonus points as we can. That's the honest truth. The reason we started running more trucks races was just to protect from him winning seven or eight races a year. It's gone well so far."
Harvick, winning for the seventh time in his truck career, led 100 of 130 laps and pulled away to a 1.308-second victory over Busch's Toyota. The runner-up was denied his 17th career truck win after reaching Victory Lane a series-leading seven times in 2009.
"We were not quite as fast as we'd like to have been," said Busch, who got into a first-lap scrape that did much more damage to pole winner and defending series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. "But we had a decent effort."
Hornaday, a four-time series champ, sustained damage that led to a blown tire, which sent him slamming into the wall between turns three and four after just 22 laps and caused severe damage to the rear deck of his truck. He was done for the day, finishing 34th out of 36 trucks.
Driving for Harvick's team, Hornaday is off to a tough start this season, following up a 27th-place finish in the opening race at Daytona. He's 28th in the standings, leaving him a big hurdle to overcome in the quest for a fifth title.
"Those guys are in a hole, but we'll keep giving them good trucks," Harvick said. "That's just part of it. You have good days, you have bad days. They've had two bad days this season, but they've had a lot of good days, too. They're just in a little bit of a slump right now."
Sixty-year-old Geoff Bodine made his first start in the truck series since 2004, giving props to the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic bobsled program.
But his Bo-Dyn Bobsled Dodge wasn't nearly as successful as those sleds he helped design for the Vancouver Games. Bodine went out after 106 laps with a gear problem and finished 26th.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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